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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) held that an accused should be produced before a magistrate within official court hours to ensure the transparency of the proceedings being conducted within the formal legal framework.

The court passed this order in a petition of Muhammad Imran who approached the court for the recovery of his brother.

The court observed the common fallacy that police can retain custody of an accused for twenty-four hours without informing any authority is both incorrect and contrary to the law.

Every accused person entitled to fundamental rights: LHC

The court said the request of the investigating agency regarding remand should be entertained in open court during court hours unless there are extraordinary compelling reasons and circumstances for doing so in any other place than the open courtroom. Such reasons must be reflected in the order of the magistrate, the court added.

The court observed that the practice of presenting the accused before a magistrate outside of regular court hours has been deprecated by the courts.

The court said the constitutional courts have been explicitly criticised for lacking transparency and formal procedural safeguards.

Moreover, the practice of presenting an accused before a magistrate at a location other than the court premises, particularly after court hours, significantly impairs the access of accused to legal representation, the court added.

The court said when an accused is produced at a magistrate’s residence or any other unconventional location it inherently restricts his ability to secure an advocate’s presence which is violative of Articles 10 and 10-A of the Constitution.

The court observed that a magistrate is tasked with carefully considering the facts, the law, and the circumstances of each case before making a decision that could significantly impact an individual’s liberty and rights.

Therefore, a magistrate’s role in remand proceedings is critical in safeguarding against arbitrary detention and ensuring that the rights of the accused are protected, the court added.

The court observed, it requires a thorough and thoughtful examination of all aspects of the case to ensure that any decision to grant remand is justified, lawful, and under settled principles governing the subject.

By acting judiciously and with an open-minded assessment of the evidence and legal arguments, magistrates uphold the principles of justice and fairness that are foundational to any criminal justice system, the court concluded.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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